By Susan Schmidt and Bill Miller
Starr's first witness before the Alexandria grand jury was a Pentagon official involved in a controversy over whether information from Linda R. Tripp's personnel files was improperly disclosed to the New Yorker magazine. Tripp, who secretly tape-recorded her Pentagon colleague Lewinsky discussing an alleged affair with President Clinton, triggered the current investigation when she took the tapes to Starr. Now, the independent counsel appears to be investigating whether efforts were made to intimidate Tripp.
Starr's use of the Alexandria grand jury may also be a signal to Lewinsky that he may seek an indictment of her there, where cases often move to trial more swiftly than in the District.
Lewinsky spent the morning with FBI agents at the federal building in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, submitting fingerprint and handwriting samples demanded under subpoena. The woman at the center of the four-month-long White House scandal has had no direct contact with investigators since Jan. 16, when they confronted her at the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton and played for her the secret tape recordings.
Lewinsky, flanked by lawyer William H. Ginsburg and her father, Bernard Lewinsky, arrived at the FBI field office early yesterday and pushed through a throng of reporters shouting questions. Ginsburg yelled for reporters to "back off," as Bernard Lewinsky lashed out at Starr. "My daughter is a pawn. Kenneth Starr is trying to use her as a pawn to get to the presidency. This is unfair. This is totally un-American," he said.
Lawyers sympathetic to Lewinsky contended that the exercise was intended in part to send a message, noting that her fingerprint samples would already be on file with the White House, which conducts security background checks on all employees. Handwriting samples could have been obtained from Pentagon files, they said.
At the federal courthouse in the District, Clinton's longtime friend Vernon E. Jordan Jr. testified for the fourth time before the grand jury. Much of the investigation centers on whether Clinton urged Lewinsky to lie and whether Jordan lined up a job for her in New York as an inducement to do so.
Jordan has said he kept Clinton apprised of his job search on Lewinsky's behalf but said he did not counsel her to lie.
Yesterday he complained about the slow pace of the grand jury proceedings. "I have come here today for the fourth time. . . . And for the fourth time, I have answered every question over and over and over again," Jordan said, pausing between each "over" to emphasize his annoyance. "I will return for a fifth visit with this grand jury on June 9, where again, I suspect that I will have to answer the same questions over and over and over again, and I am quite prepared to do that."
Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, meanwhile, has determined that Kramerbooks & Afterwords, a Dupont Circle bookstore, must turn over information Starr has subpoenaed about Lewinsky's book purchases, though she narrowed the scope of the subpoena. The ruling remains under seal, but bookstore representatives, who have opposed the request on First Amendment grounds, said they will seek a stay of the decision while they appeal.
Lewinsky told Tripp in a tape-recorded conversation that she gave Clinton a gift of the novel "Vox," according to people familiar with the tapes, and investigators are seeking to substantiate that claim [Related article, Page B1].
At the Alexandria grand jury, the appearance of Pentagon administration director David O. Cooke suggested that the independent counsel may be trying to determine whether Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon's disclosure of certain information from Tripp's personnel file represented an attempt at witness intimidation.
Cooke declined to describe his grand jury testimony. "One of the things about having a good memory is that you know what to forget," he told reporters. He did allow that he was questioned about Tripp "now and again."
Bacon has apologized for directing the release of information from Tripp's 1987 security clearance form, which is supposed to be protected from release by the Privacy Act. Bacon acknowledged in a recent civil deposition that he and a subordinate, Clifford Bernath, were responsible for providing the information to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said the release of Tripp's personnel information was inappropriate and has launched an internal investigation.
Mayer wrote in March that Tripp had been arrested for grand larceny as a teenager and that she had failed to disclose that arrest on her security clearance form. A judge reduced the charge to a loitering infraction for what Tripp associates said was a teenage prank played upon her.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said yesterday that the First Amendment protects Mayer from having to turn over her notes to the conservative group Judicial Watch, which is suing the Clinton administration. The group issued a wide-ranging subpoena seeking notes and information about Mayer's dealings with at least 100 administration officials, Clinton allies, lawmakers and others. The group also subpoenaed Mayer to testify in a civil deposition about material she gathered.
The deposition, scheduled for next Monday, was canceled as a result of Lamberth's ruling. The judge found that Judicial Watch failed to demonstrate a compelling need to question Mayer. Lamberth said Judicial Watch failed to show that it couldn't build a case with other sources.
Judicial Watch's founder, Larry Klayman, said he wanted to question Mayer in an effort to determine whether the Clinton administration has a history of violating the privacy rights of perceived enemies. He sought Mayer's deposition as part of a lawsuit against the Clinton administration concerning an allegation that the FBI improperly handed over to the White House hundreds of personnel files of former Reagan and Bush administration employees.
Despite protests from the Clinton administration, Lamberth has given Klayman considerable freedom to explore questions about a pattern of conduct. So far, for example, Klayman has been permitted to take depositions from the two Pentagon officials, Bacon and Bernath, who dealt with Mayer as she researched the New Yorker piece.
Pentagon officials initially said that Mayer got her information about Tripp from a career government employee -- Bernath -- and not a political appointee. However, Bacon, a political appointee, revealed in his deposition that he authorized Bernath to talk with Mayer. Bacon also testified that he discussed Mayer's request for information with Cooke, the Pentagon's director of administration and management.
Bacon insisted during his deposition that the White House was not involved in his decision to cooperate with Mayer.
Special correspondent Cassandra Stern in Los Angeles, staff writer Brooke A. Masters and staff researcher Nathan Abse contributed to this report.
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